New Digital Emblems, like much of Poundstone's digital work, is characterized by an idiosyncratic combination of "found" digital sounds, highly-contrasting colors, and forceful, jarring animation; it skirts along the border of abstraction and representation, often within the space of the "wingding"-style icon. However, New Digital Emblems is also an interactive, exhaustive essay on all things ludic in science, literature and the visual arts, ranging across the Oulipo, the Turing Test, and Renaissance Emblem books, etc., while being an extension of this very tradition, most notably in the digital emblems themselves which, with accompanying motto, coyly surrender their meanings only after a reading of the mini-essays themselves. This is no mere academic exercise; the emblems can be playful, visceral, inscrutable and shocking, classic in their reserve and as Pop Art as anything by one of his heroes, Ed Ruscha.
Author description: I probably encountered emblems first through the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Like much that I admire, emblems are really on the margins of art and literary history. Before the dot.com bust, so much that was written about the web struck me as wrong-headed. People imputed what I can only call 'magic' to web's feature set. Low-cost-per-million multimedia interactivity was going to change the world. I knew that people had said similar things about the emblem, and had offered, in outline, many of the same reasons for it. So the emblem, often literally magical, became a caricature of the web.
Instructions: Requires Schockwave.
Previous publication: Beehive, June 2001.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.